tv Inside Story Al Jazeera August 28, 2013 5:00pm-5:31pm EDT
>> welcome to al jazeera, i'm tony harris. this is your headlines this hour. the fort hood shooter has been sentenced to death. few hours of deliberations, relatives of victims gave testimony and spoke after the death penalty was announced. hasan was convicted of killing 30 people and wounding others in 2009. he will be taken to forth 11 len worth fire crews in california have seent drone to help battle the frames flames from the rim fire. the drones help find hot spots
that wouldn't have been targeted else wise. the california rim fire is now 23% contained. that is up 23% from yesterday. for more in-depth coverage in this news hour we invite you to head over to our web site, that is aljazeera.com. that is aljazeera.com. and leading the web page you can see reporting on obama's speech today, marking the 50th anniversary of the march on washington. inside story is next. 50 years after the march on washington there are lingering challenges to the modern social justice movement and a modern debathe as to how to accomplish
dr. king's dream. this is inside story. hello everybody i'm david shuster, it was called a march for jobs and freedom. hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors gathered on the national mall and ignited a new conversation about civil rights in america. highlighted by the march and by dr. martin luther king jr.'s i have a dream speech are still alive today. still ahead, we'll examine inquality and social justice. finally, we'll take you to an organizer who was there. joyce ladner. >> i had a stage pass.
no one on that stage had ever seen that many people before. that's the major one memory. i have a lot of others as well. >> was it an energetic crowd? was it a me mesmerized crowd? >> it was a very friendly crowd. it was almost like meeting new friends. it was easy going. it was an easy crowd. >> was there a sense that eventually society would progress and things would change? >> there was but i think it had -- that had a lot to do with the expectations of the people of my parents' generation they had of us. and you know, also, a lot of black fathers gone -- were in world war ii and they went to fight for democracy and they came back and still had segregation and a lot of discrimination. so they expected us to be that generation that would change things. but i think if there was one symbol, that we all latched
onto, it was the lynching of emma till who was our age at that time. all of my friends in the student nonviolent coordinating committee, sncc, remember his face on the cover of jet magazine and his mother had insisted they not do any cosmetic work on him when he was put in the casket. she said i want the world to see what they did to my boy. and that was after having been lynched, shot in the eye and thrown into the tallahachee river. the bloated body was awful. that became the personification of all the evil that we faced and our parents. >> particularly a teenager, something of your age, it happens to them. >> absolutely. you really touched what was important to us. we were going into our teens. we were his age. if that could happen to him, it
could happen to us. >> how concerned is the african american community now about issues of economic injustice and disparities between wealthy and poor as opposed to access issues such as so much of what you were working on in the 60s and 70s. >> very much, incarceration of black fathers who could be locked up. i'm hopefully the obama administration could look at that and hopefully that can change. economic injustices prevail. i think if there is one tremendously -- tremendous area that i'm disappointed in, many black people, unemployed, underemployed, lack access to jobs. and without that you really can't afford to take care of yourself. so many people are homeless or
living in homeless shelters and so on. who wouldn't be there if they had a job with a living wage, a livable wage. >> finally, 50 years on from the martin luther king's i have a dream speech, if he were alive today what do you think his reaction would be about the progress that has been made and the challenges that still remain? >> the same thing he said about the civil rights act, in the march on washington speech he said that president kennedy has introduced a civil rights act but mr. president, it doesn't go far enough. and i think he would be pleased that with all the progress that's been made, but i think he would also be very concerned. about the lack of progress in the key areas. >> that was joyce ladner an organizer in the original march on washington. today 50 years later, the modern
civil rights movement is different. we spoke with phillip agnew, executive director of the dream defenders, a group he founded as reaction to the trayvon martin killing in florida. >> today, what we've learned before in powerful movements of the people, combining it with the technology that we have today and being really on the ground and working with young people. so we're in the state of florida right now working with college age students and youth teaching them about organizing, teaching them about successful movements of the past and then giving them some on the ground training because we've got some real issues that we've got to confront today. >> this summer, the trayvon martin martin case, the george zimmerman why verdict, that was a big moment for the organization. >> it was. a big moment for the country. what it showed is we do live in the day where the death of a young child whether he be black, white, brown, can be condoned,
covered up. what we see is that our laws don't really protect anybody anymore, i think the death of trayvon martin was an alarm clock for a lot of young people because he was just like us. he dressed like us, he talked is like us, he went to the store and bought the same things we would. so it was an opportunity for us to engage in a real discussion about where our country is and then bring young people to the table about where we want to go. >> you take your inspiration from martin luther king in an i have a dream speech but there are clear differences in approaches and tactics from 50 years ago. explain. >> nonviolence is the only way we believe to show a violent system. >> just like martin luther king espoused but that's where the differences end. >> yes, right now we live in an age where dr. martin luther king led from the pulpit.
so today i think a lot of our young people what's captured their imagination is music and fashion. and so it's taking that message, and bringing it and democratizing it. we're ready, we're trained, we're disciplined. we have them as a compass. there is room for everybody in the movement but deciding what our futures look like, the biggest challenge is allowing for the forum and young people being at the table. we're tired of being at the back of the bus. >> joining us now is bill fletcher with the american federation of government employees. and myaraki moore. and mark moreal, current president of the national urban league and former mayor of new orleans. start with you. what's the state of the civil
rights movement today? >> i think we're not where we were. separate from the white kids down low, drinking from separate fountains, not being able to go into the stores. we're not there but we're not where we ought to be. we have huge disparities in terms of wealth. for every $1 in wealth held by the typical white family, the typical african american family have 5 sengts of welt, we have disparities and challenges, we thought we were beyond the gutting of the civil rights movement of the voting rights act. but here we are today facing the same challenges in terms of the right to vote and so we have got a long way to go. >> and yet what we are hearing hearing mark moreal, to reach young people through music and where they're most comfortable. >> i'm impressed by philip agnew
and the dream defenders, from north carolina a and t and sat in on greensboro and the freedom riders and the like. music is a medium, the focus on the disparities that we face and how we fix them. so i think it's a combination. young people and culture has always had an important role in the messages of the movement. much of the message, many of the conscious artists of the 1960s and 70s promoted the ideas of freedom and jobs and those sorts of things. so i am really, really impressed with what the young people down in tallahassee have done on their own motion. >> and in fact bill fletcher, they got a meeting with the governor of florida and talk about the stand your ground and yet they have to be more
aggressive enough. >> problem is i don't think there's a civil rights movement, i think it's problematic to frame what we have. what we have right now are several social justice movements one of which is the black freedom movement. there was a civil rights phase of our struggle in the black freedom movement and that phase ended roughly in early '70s. the black freedom movement continues and part of the problem is that we're too nostalgic. we keep looking back to try to resurface different tactics and strategies and analyses. when what we have to be doing is looking forward. what are the challenges? we have to re-set our sights and i think that's what agnew and other people are trying to get at. even if i agree with mark that we have to look at these issues of political and economic justice. >> mark is there too much nostalgia too much pragmatism as opposed to focusing on what we
have now? >> like maya, the stories of signs on buses water fountains, seclusion, segregation and the way in which a generation ago, generations ago they demonstrated courage in overcoming is an aspiration. what i do believe is if you -- inspiration, if all you look is look back, recreate, we will not be successful but i do think it's being inspired by the bravery by the ingenuity. when dr. king deployed peaceful nonviolence, resistance and direct action as a strategy, those who had been in front of the civil rights movement b had been lawyers working through courts. his tactics were highly controversial, not widely supported. we look back and believe that the march on washington was universally supported. that is absolutely not the case. so i think it's a combination of
looking back for inspiration and a sense of history, but not getting trapped in sort of just looking forward, but looking through the rearview mirror if you will. >> and maya no doubt that the activists of today are inspiring simply because they're choosing activism as opposed to anything else that the young people can be involved with today. >> i think that i would agree with bill that in terms of a solid movement that we're lacking there. are that i think the trayvon martin shooting, the killing of trayvon martin, was a point of reflection and also, a point for which we generated, i think, a lot of interest and activism in young people and people overall. in terms of small movements i think we have to join hands and i think that's the point we need to get to. >> time for a quick break but we will continue this conversation right after this. stay wit with us.
>> welcome back to inside story. i'm david shuster in washington. we've been talking about the progress and lack of progress of civil rights. according to where things stand, according to a recent study by pew research, the employment gap has widened since the 1960s. the difference in black and white families was $19,000. now the gap has widened to roughly $27,000. in terms of wealth the average net worth of a black family in 1984 was less than 10% of a
white family. now the gap has widened even further. black families earn only 7% of what a white family makes. bill fletcher, maya rockiningmo, and bill fletcher, these income disparities they are widening. who's to blame? >> the system is to blame. this is what, when i hear these speeches from president obama, regardless of his intentions he's putting the blame on black folks. whether it's black fathers, black families, this system is rigged against us. and that's what we need to keep emphasizing. we have to keep emphasizing, particularly for the purposes of reaching young people, that the problem is not them. even if they have problems. the problem is that the way that
the system is structured. we've had, and this relates directly to the march on washington. we've had an economic crisis facing black america at least since the late 1950s. randolph and others realized this, which is what led to the call for the original march on washington in 1963. since then we've had a very problematic economic situation for black americans. and by the 1970s with so called deindustrialization the situation has plummeted with the loss of manufacturing jobs. when people talk about the black middle class disappearing, no, there's been a hole that's been created in our cities where the black middle class has been destroyed by the destruction of these various jobs. and this is the discussion that we need to be having. what is the economic strategy to address this? this is not about individual improvement. it's about something is wrong in the way that the system has operated.
>> and mark moweral, is there something with president obama not talking about this but talking about the system being broken? >> let's be fair, those are the president's words and then there's the president's proposals. one of the president's proposals that we encouraged was the mairng jobs act which -- american jobs act which includes public service jobs, includes summer jobs, includes a more targeted focus on urban comuments. the truth of the -- communities. the truth of the matter is that that proposal standing alone isn't going to reverse the situation, but if a recalcitrant congress, would see fit to 27 months ago have seen fit to pass that piece of legislation. where i do agree with bill in a big way is the deindustrialization, trade policies, fiscal policies have pushed jobs abroad.
finally, people have begun to recognize that when you lose manufacturing jobs, better paying jobs it damaged black working people, and it damaged the work class. transition what's there today has transitioned to the white collar government jobs, state, local and federal government so we've had the double whammy of sequestration and cut backs which have caused layoffs in those sectors. >> is there anything president obama can do in dealing with that but also dealing with the republicans in congress and so many in washington who don't even want to talk about that? >> the president has a lot of power, a lot of administrative power that i think that he hasn't yet explored. and so i think that we need to be talking about you know what's going on with the loss of wealth as a result of the housing crisis. and what the administration has done thus far has not been sufficient to meet the need.
so on housing policy there's a way that he can lead by making sure the rite people are in the right position he -- right people are in the right positions, and i think the president has the huge bully pulpit, challenging the states to get rid of their inequitable funding systems that actually underfund and defund many of the school districts where students are color are disproportionately concentrated. i think there are a number of things that the president can do by focusing on his administrative power and his bully pulpit. but i feel that the president has viewed the african american community as something not to be addressed directly. he has been comfortable addressing lgbt issues, women issues, immigration issues. but he is not comfortable addressing the left-behinds,
>> founder and president of, founder and president of the national urban league and former mayor of new orleans. maya was talking about the president's lack of comfort dealing with the african american community. do you agree that he seems uncomfortable? >> i think it's difficult for him to speak openly about racial disparities. >> why is that? >> i think there is a concern about backlash of forces in the country and the president's desire to try to navigate a
course that does not engender that backlash. these times are different, the president has now been reaffirmed twice. i understand the special burdens that the presidential carries as a pioneer. a pioneer who is being intently watched by all the people all the time. but i do think that at this stage, the march on washington and the president's remarks in connection with the commemoration provide an opportunity, yet another opportunity to more directly address the disparities and those who are locked out and indeed left out. so while i might say i don't agree all the time with how the president has pursued it, as someone who has served in elected office and had to nag gate through difficult mine fields, i have an understanding of the political ca calculus tht he and his advisors have made.
>> bill fletcher how would you like to see a second term playout on these particular issues? >> the problem is, i can tell you what i'd like to see happen. the bottom linement is: what are we going to do? i think that was true in the first term. a lot of black folks don't really want to have this discussion. but we gave a pass to this administration. you had to do a dna test before you could criticize president obama. you could -- any time you got close to raising an issue about obama's policies, people would challenge you, as to whether you were legitimate my black, whether you were -- legitimately black, whether you were being fair to the president. we made a fundamental mistake, we should have been on him like white on rice right after the election. power concedes nothing to
demand. if african americans had been putting the pressure on the president the way the lgbtq movement did, i'd put a dollar to a doughnut that we'd be having a different discussion right now. but for very understandable reasons, the rabid irrational right wing, many that have been attacking him, many say we can't add criticisms because we would add aid and comfort to the enemy. i think in the next two years we have to insist on changes, particularly to economic development. >> maybe a little less pride that we have an african american president, a little more direction and perhaps even criticism. >> that's right. i think the president's election, two time election was a political and psychic victory for african americans, but the lived conditions of african americans has actually worsened, so we have to be about the focus of advocating for what we
believe in and advocating for policies that are going ochange the conditions on the ground. one of those areas is social security. unfortunately, the president has seen fit to play footsy with the are congress people -- >> we'll have that conversation another day. thank you for coming. that's here for me, david shuster. you can send us your thoughts on twitter, or@david shuster. thanks for watching, everybody.